To the Barricades Front Cover

Paperback / softback
ISBN: 9780889227477
Pages: 192
Pub. Date: April 15 2012
Dimensions: 8.5" x 5" x 0.4375"
Rights: Available: WORLD
Poetry / POE011000

  • POETRY / Canadian

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To the Barricades

By Stephen Collis

In To the Barricades we move back and forth between historical and contemporary scenes of revolt, from nineteenth-century Parisian street barricades to twenty-first-century occupations and street marches, shifting along the active seam between poetry and revolution. At once elegy (poems dedicated “to” past revolutionary figures and scenes) and a call for renewed struggle in the here and now, this collection of “social lyrics” and serial explosions seeks to drive apathy from the field and to recover forgotten “radical ideas” amidst our current “amnesiac condition.” Avant-garde technique is donated to lyric ends (the expression of social affects), as Arthur Rimbaud presides and the commune is reconvened in Vancouver’s streets.

To the Barricades continues Collis’s “life” poem, “The Barricades Project,” which also includes Anarchive (2005) and The Commons (2008). Both the anti-archive of the revolutionary record and the dream of a once and future “commons” upon which all can equally dwell continue to shape these poems where words are hurried bricks thrown up as “barricades” in language.

“Dear effects of / tireless treason / the social only / shuffles if you / move your feet / we’ve learned this / in a place invaders / called Vancouver / even if we are only / a few and even if / it rains on the day / of the demo”

“Barricades are a type of resistance and, depending on who’s throwing them up, an act of creativity as well as control. Collis uses brush-by, glint, examination-in-perspective, and roundabout reconnaissance to measure our times … Unafraid of the truth and unafraid to opine on the effect of truth, Collis has emerged as one of Canada’s finest writers. Like climate change and tar sands, like the decimation of honey bees with Neonicotinoid, like the essence of Edward Snowden’s revelations, we ignore Collis’s words at our own peril.” – ARC Poetry

“What is not a chronicle of scuffling feet over rebellious streets, what is not a meditation on spontaneous committee work, not a study of occupying civic spaces, not an expression of cascading revolutionary moments, what is the ‘not’ of all that, but that is still forged from all that? It is precisely this swirling charybdis of emotive power that To the Barricades ventures to traverse, harnessing the potential of collective transformation. Continuously in danger of being recouped and serialized by topic and theme, genre, and discourse, in the crosshairs of being literaturized, Collis keeps the forms of social address fluid, stealthy, street-smart, and on the run. Like Neruda’s Canto General, To the Barricades succeeds in marshalling forth ‘cities of words’ as yet un-citied. These lines are graffitiable.” – Rodrigo Toscano